How do I improve my web site performance in search engines (SEO)? When I first started learning about SEO the rules of the game were very different. We had to invest a lot of time in ensuring that we had the necessary key words and phrases embedded in the HTML of our web sites.

At a recent conference (SMART Social Media for Business Conference) I learned that Google can change the algorithm up to seven times a day so it is rather a moving target. I then subjected myself to two whole Saturdays learning about the intricacies of the current best practice. Here, in a nutshell, is what I learned to improve performance in search engines:

  • Update your web site content on a regular basis (it can take a month for changes to be seen by Google)
  • Sign up for Google webmaster tools and Google Analytics
  • Work out your long tail keywords (i.e. what phrases people might use to search for the information on your site – avoid short tail phrases such as “divorce lawyer” and concentrate on longer ones such as “divorce lawyer for Spanish husband with wife and children in England”)
  • Forget the old advice about the importance of meta-tags for SEO – except the meta-description tag which is sometimes used as the descriptive snippet in the SERPs
  • Consider LSI – Latent Search Indexing (e.g. lawnmowers often appear alongside strimmers, so lawyers might appear alongside support for the elderly)
  • Use keywords in headings. Another source I saw suggested that you devote as much time to crafting your headings as you do to the body copy
  • Keep to one page per search topic – with 20% unique content on each page – and optimise one page at a time
  • Acquire used domain names as older names are more favoured by Google
  • With the advent of blended search, there are opportunities for using good captions on images and videos

There was also some discussion about the perils of “black hat SEO” – BMW was once removed from Google for three months after setting up numerous false links to its site.

Broader reading and subsequent talking to specialists revealed the following tips:

  • Generate valuable content that other (quality) sites will want to link to – write as much as necessary, no more and no less
  • Let people know that your web site is out there – comment on high ranking blogs in your sector (this is a key element of digital PR – reaching the influences and opinion makers)
  • Create your own blog (you can cross-reference to your web site and post links through social media which are quality sites where links back will help)
  • Network, network, network (on and off line)
  • Ask the people who link to your competitors to link to you
  • Encourage links within your content using descriptive anchor text
  • Submit your site to high quality directories (including things like Google Local)
  • Use “bait” links (downloads, free reports, e-books etc)
  • Offer to swap links with a few relevant, high quality sites
  • Get all fee-earners to link to the site from LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media sites – with anchor text on the links

So, in a nutshell the current view on SEO (although it’s a moving target) is:

  1. Ensure that you have good quality, natural language and regularly updated content on your site (blogs can be a great help here)
  2. Use appropriate long tail keywords – especially in titles and anchor text
  3. Encourage good quality sites to link to your site

There is additional information on the topic of SEO in one of the books I recently reviewed:

I’d welcome any further tips and hints from those who are specialists in the field.

I do not restrict access to the FAQs but I politely request that you let me know by email and acknowledge the source ( if you wish to use the material anywhere.

As always, if there are particular topics you would like me to address in the future, please let me know. You will also find a source of more and up to date information on a broad range of management and marketing issues in the professions by checking out the blog where I also post regular reviews of books that might be helpful.